Sarah, 28, worked as an architect while studying in Latakia. When her concerns about the the violence of the regime and the war became too great, Sarah decided to leave Syria. This is her story.
Before the war, I lead a healthy life surrounded by friends and activities. I spent my days between studies and work and sports, and I spent my summer holidays mainly with family and friends. We went on picnics, camping and hiking trips and to the cinema. I felt satisfied with life, loved by my friends and pleased with my studies and work.
Things started changing when some friends distanced themselves from me because we had different points of view, but I kept friendly relations with most of them. I wasn't able to study a masters program in Syria, and my economic situation deteriorated, although I kept working until my last day in Syria. Fearing for my life was a major factor in making me decide to leave Syria.
There are many reasons for me eventually leaving Syria in December 2013. The most important one was that the regime stayed in power and continued with its violence. I was active in the Syrian civil society and opposed the killing from all sides. I was worried about the rise of violence, that the Islamists would take control, that the civil society would deteriorate into sectarianism, and that the humanitarian situation would get worse on all sides.
I can't say my experience was painful compared to other people's experiences. It was nice to visit friends in Turkey. It was hard saying farewell, but I still felt close to them. The most difficult part for me was arriving in Sweden, a new country where I felt lost and had to wait.
The most difficult part for me was arriving in Sweden and being confronted with a new country where I felt lost and had to wait.
Originally I wanted to go to France for reasons related to the language and me being attracted to the French culture. It was a coincidence that I ended up in Sweden. It actually felt horrible to experience the depressing weather, the darkness and scarcity of people out on the streets. I felt scared and isolated. Not so much in the capital, but out on the countryside.
I thought that I would find my dream life here, but that didn't happen. Life is hard here too. Dreaming about studying and trying to find a job is very tiring and takes time. I expected people here to be more humanitarian, because I know this is the land of human rights. But I was shocked by many things.
Right now, I'm living in another person's apartment. I don't like it very much. I haven't met any Swedish friends, and I miss my home and my parents.
It would have been easier for newcomers to get into society if academics were able to learn not just the language but also able to choose an education that suited their individual abilities. The Public Employment Agency should help people finding a job quicker. From the perspective of the newcomers, I think one should make sure to learn the Swedish language first of all.
I want to study and work here. I will try to get into a masters program and specialize as an architect. I love my major. It feels like it's the only thing I have left. I loved my university and workplace in Syria. Those places created the identity that I have today.
I want to stay in Stockholm. It's a beautiful and lovely city. I know it now, and I have friends and a new life here.
I want to stay in Stockholm. It's a beautiful and lovely city. I am familiar with it now and I have friends and a new life here. What worries me most is not finding a job as an architect. As a matter of fact, I'm worried about finding any job, having to live on social benefits.
I don't know if I want to move back to Syria after the war. I don't want to see my country destroyed. When I was a student, I dreamt about building the country, but I don't want to see the killings and face all the shattered and frightened humans. It hurts me to look at the monsters that created this war, and I'm afraid of revenge attacks.